Lexington, KY- All eyes will be on Lezirias, Portugal this weekend as the U.S. sends three drivers to the FEI World Driving Championships for Singles in hopes of adding to their 2012 medal tally. Just a month ago, the U.S. Four-in-Hand Driving team clinched Team Bronze with Chester Weber grabbing Individual Silver at the World Championships in Reisenbeck, Germany. The Singles World Championships looks to be the largest to date with 79 competitors from 22 nations set to compete September 13-16.
Leading the U.S. team is the 2012 USEF National Single Horse Champion, Sterling Graburn (Georgetown, KY) who will drive his horse from those championships, Ulano, in Portugal. This combination has had a banner year in 2012 with the 11-year-old Dutch Harness gelding also collecting third place honors in the Little Everglades CDE and second place at the Live Oak CDE. Graburn makes a return trip to the FEI World Driving Championships for Singles after having represented the U.S. in 2006 in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy.
Donna Crookston (Saltsburg, PA) and her own 16-year-old Morgan gelding RG Cowboys Black Cadillac placed second behind Graburn at the National Championship in March. The combination is no stranger to these championships having travelled to Jarantow, Poland to compete as part of the U.S. squad in 2008, in addition to competing as an individual in 2010 in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy.
Rounding out the American team is Leslie Berndl and Fitz Grupe's Uminco. Berndl (Newcastle, CA) and the 11-year-old KWPN gelding won at the Live Oak CDE this March following a second place finish at the Sunshine State CDE earlier in the year. Berndl was also teammates with Crookston at the 2008 Championships in Poland.
Marie De Ronde will serve as U.S. Chef d' Equipe at the 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Singles.
The First Vet inspection for the 2012 FEI World Driving Championships for Singles will be held Wednesday at 9am local time. Competition officially gets underway Thursday with the first of two days of dressage.
For more information about the 2012 FEI World Driving Championships here.
Follow the U.S. Driving Team here.
Photo: Sterling Graburn and Ulano (Picsofyou.com)